Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay .

Cynthia Bigge is 14 years old and when she wakes up at home one morning she finds that her father, mother and brother have vanished. There is no note for her to read, her parents cars are gone and the Police cannot find her family. Cynthia is taken in by her Aunt Tess and her family is never found. It is mystery what happened that night but 25 years later the story unfolds.

This book has 437 pages and it is a crime/thriller. Lindon's writing style is very much like that of Harlan Coben in his book called The Woods . The resemblance is uncanny and both guys are quality authors. This novel has a very clever plot, told with very clever writing by a very clever man.

You finish this book and understand that everything is integral to the story. People do what they think is right at the time. They do not have the benefit of hindsight but they all have to live with the consequences.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I vote it a HIT. This novel is a quality read and I will be happy to buy another of Linwood's books. The last 3 pages of this story had me in tears because of the emotional warmth that suddenly exploded within the context of this very moving tale.

Looking at Linwood's website his next book is called Too Close to Home. "What if your next door neighbors were all murdered? And what if you found out the killers went to the wrong house?". That sounds very interesting and I imagine it will be a good buy when it is published in paperback.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Barry's 'flawed' novel wins Costa prize.

The novelist Sebastian Barry was named the winner of the Costa Book of the Year award last night in spite of writing a novel that was, according to the judges "flawed in many ways". The decision to award Barry, a 53-year-old Dubliner, with the £25,000 Costa prize for The Secret Scripture was in spite of the fact that the book had "a lot wrong with it" in the eyes of the nine-strong judging panel.

Matthew Parris, the columnist and chair of the judges, said "It was an extraordinarily close finish among the judges. The feeling among judges was that there was a lot wrong with it [The Secret Scripture]. It was flawed in many ways, almost no one liked its ending. For some, this was fatal. I don't think the ending works, no-body thought the ending worked. But there was a feeling among the judges that many great works of literature are also flawed."

...So, I just don't get it. What is up with these judges? There are loads of new books out there on the market. I read a few books, some are good and some are poor. Some books I reckon are above average and some below average. Some books I think are an acceptable read but a few I reckon are brilliant. Therefore I cannot understand how nine judges cannot find one book that they all like. To vote a book that had "a lot wrong with it" and "was flawed in many ways, almost no one liked its ending" the winner of the Costa Book of the Year award is beyond me. What this shows is that the Costa Book of the Year award has little to recommend it, it should not be taken as an endorsement for purchase and the judges' selection is lacking in quality.

Buying a book to read is a bit like buying beef in a supermarket. The portion of beef you buy is a lottery regardless of how it looks in the packaging. You could strike lucky and really enjoy your beef or you could be disappointed and wish you had bought a chicken instead. The beef however is not rated by so called judges who give a £25,000 prize to a flawed novel.

I suggest that you read the covers of books for sale and take your purchase as a gamble, whilst ignoring the awards given out by judges. The judges recommendations do not make for a safe bet as I have found to my cost when I have bought and read What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time to start jacking off!

I have noticed a few lorries on the motorway over the past 2 weeks with letters rubbed into the dirt on the back. You get accustomed to seeing messages written in the dirt by workmates such as "Also available in white" and "I wish my wife was as dirty as this truck". You also see a group of capital letters in the style of "STFC" meaning Some Town Football Club. Recently I have seen the capital letters reading "SCOF".

My mind was puzzled, what does SCOF mean? A quick look on the Urban Dictionary reveals the answer. An acronym for Surpise Cum On Face. Did you scof her last night? Yea, got her right in the eye.

And today in the newspaper is a recommendation, Masturbation can be good for the over-50s . Removal of toxins built up over a lifetime reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Masturbation may be good for you – or bad, depending on your age. By the time men reach their fifties, it may protect against the disease because it helps remove toxins that have built up over a lifetime. In their 50s men who were most sexually active (more than 10 times a month for sexual intercourse and masturbation combined) enjoyed a small protective effect. The effect was greater when masturbation was assessed on its own. As men age and accumulate toxins from the diet or through their lungs , sexual activity may help release them. Studies have found toxins in the semen and the fluid produced in the prostate. As you age it is more important to flush them out. A possible explanation for the protective effect that men in their fifties appear to receive from overall sexual activity, and particularly masturbation, is that the release of accumulated toxins during sexual activity reduces the risk of developing cancer in the prostate area.

Today I took my car to Bathwick Tyres for an Oil and Filter change costing £29.90 - I do not need to visit a Citroen dealer for a service as I can do the inspection myself and any fast-fit garage can do an Oil and Filter change for you. Why pay loads of money for a main dealer service and have your car off the road for a whole day, whilst they park it up to make you thing a lot of work is involved?

So, that is the car sorted, was there another little job I should be doing? Ah!! There's the rub!! As I look at the images I can sing along as I play away ...

"She calls out to the man on the street:
Sir, can you help me?
It's cold and I've nowhere to sleep,
Is there somewhere you can tell me?

He walks on, doesn't look back,
He pretends he can't hear her.
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street,
Seems embarrassed to be there.

Oh, think twice,
It's another day for you and me in paradise.
Oh, think twice,
It's just another day for you, you and me in paradise."

..."Houston - we have lift-off! System flushed".

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another restriction on personal freedom begins today.

Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 comes into force on 26 January and makes owning offending pictures a criminal offence punishable by up to three years' imprisonment. An image is deemed to be extreme if it "is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character" and portrays in any way an act which threatens a person's life, or which results or appears likely to result in serious injury to someone's genitals or breasts.

Opponents have no problems with two provisions banning images of bestiality or necrophilia – both of which are already illegal to do – but fear that the other definitions are so vaguely worded that even images of consenting adults engaging in fictional violence will now be outlawed, giving Britain the toughest anti-porn laws in Europe.

The Bill went through the Commons unchallenged and only in the House of Lords was there any significant opposition. Baroness Miller, the Liberal Democrat peer, argued that the legislation would justify the Government "walking into people's bedrooms and turning them into criminals simply for viewing something". The law is a significant change in direction for policing pornography in Britain because it shifts the burden of guilt from those making the pornography to those viewing it.

...Okay, our Parliament has decided to further restrict our freedoms yet again. The viewer of any media should be the only person to decide whether they wish to view that media. It should be a matter of personal choice and not a criminal offence to look at material that some people may find offensive. The list of banned material is growing, I am not a pornographer or a terrorist but every adult should be allowed to look at whatever they please. We do not all want to be restricted to children's television. This delves into the spectre of the Thought Police. A person's thoughts should be free and it should not be a criminal offence to view images in the privacy of your own home. You can watch a war film on television but the viewer does not go out to kill people. War films are made without any of the actors being killed or hurt. What has people's thoughts at home in their free time got to do with the Police?

The Consenting Adult Action Network and Backlash have campaigned about this legislation but I fear the battle has been lost. Although we live in a democracy, ultimately the freedom of that democracy has decided to further reduce our freedom to live as adults. The bedroom Police have arrived and we are all to be treated like naughty children.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The WOW! factor.

I enjoy drinking real ale, lots of different real ales, brewed all around our country. I do not stick to one real ale but I try them all. Supermarkets stock many different real ales for you to try and the choice is amazing. If I see a beer I have not had before then I will automatically try it.

Last night watching television with Gail I decided to have some beer. I like all real ales and each one is different. I opened a bottle of Old Hooky from the Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshire. I have drank this beer before and can remember drinking Old Hooky with workmates in pubs in Oxford in the 1980's. This beer was recommended to me by a character known as "John the bus". He liked his buses, coaches and beers and had great experience of them all. John put me onto Old Hooky and I really enjoyed it.

Normally when I open and take the first sip of a different beer I think Okay and simply enjoy the drink. But last night when I took my first sip of Old Hooky I thought WOW!!! - this is brilliant. The surprise this first sip gave me was amazing, I could not get over the quality of this refreshment. This real ale is beautiful, it is the business. Memories of drinking Old Hooky with John in the 1980's came flooding back. John was a lot older than me so I assume he will have retired by now and sadly may have passed away.

Old Hooky from the Hook Norton Brewery certainly has the WOW! factor, so much so that I have posted my experience here on this blog. Old Hooky is an Old Dark 4.6% ABV beautifully balanced beer, fruity by nature, with a well-rounded body and the suggestive echo of Crystal Malt. Lager drinkers do not know what delights they are missing whilst they drink their nitrogen infused keg brewed chemical fizz.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How many fitters does it take to change a light bulb?

Ah, the old question, how many people does it take to change a light bulb? But this was no ordinary light bulb, it was a Light Emitting Diode indicator light assembly as fitted to a Plaxton Panther coach. I did my usual daily vehicle checks to my allocated coach and found both rear indicators faulty, only a few of the LED's were lighting on each side. I reported this defect to Matthew who told me it was Okay and that I was to drive the coach because he considered it to be fit for service.

Two and a half hours of driving later, the right hand indicator stopped working. I telephoned my depot and told them what a mess we were now in. They called out Avenger Vehicle Services of Leicester who attended my coach. Paul did not have a LED light assembly on his van but saw that the left hand light would not last much longer as there was only a few diodes working. We both talked to my depot on the telephone and it was agreed that Paul would buy 2 LED indicator light assemblies and fit them at the end of my journey, as the top right hand indicator light was working Okay.

I met Paul at the end of my shift and he had 2 LED indicator light assemblies, part number 372A - 01 made by BMAC . He was lucky to get these, as they were the last 2 in the store in Loughborough! The problem was now solved and I felt like the lucky owner of a brand new Christmas tree!

I am annoyed at the attitude of Matthew. I reported the fault to him and he ignored it. I could not refuse to drive the coach because at that time some LED's were working and he classed it as a "running defect". If it was down to me I would have replaced both LED indicator light assemblies OR allocated another coach. This defect cost a lot of money to resolve due to the time and mileage that must be paid to Paul. We also, if the nationwide company was aware of what was going on, could have lost the service and they could have hired in another operator. This problem was an avoidable breakdown, these LED's do not go in a flash like conventional bulbs. The diodes generally expire slowly, one at a time, so you have plenty of warning of imminent failure. These LED lights are a good design and service coaches better than conventional bulbs. But they will never last the life of the coach and must be replaced when water has wrecked havoc with the circuit board.

So, it takes 2 fitters to change a light bulb. The first fitter thinks it may last longer and therefore save the pennies. The second fitter comes out on a breakdown call-out, buys the parts if they are in stock, fits the light and prepares his invoice.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Red Pullover.

In November I blogged about company uniform shirts and that "Maybe drivers who have been here a fair time could start wearing the old red pullovers just because we can?".

Well, on Sunday whilst walking my pet dog just before going into work, it starting raining - big time. When I got home I took off the very wet company uniform issue blue fleece jacket. I then went to my wardrobe and thought to myself, "Oh, I am getting a little bored with the blue fleece jacket. Ah! look, here is a company uniform issue red pullover. That would be a nice change!".

So on went the old style uniform issue red pullover, the one with the double letter logo on the top of the left sleeve. This pullover is still worn by drivers who have been here a long time. When the uniform was changed the pullover was removed from uniform allocation. There is no longer a pullover for the nationwide company. Three other drivers at our depot still wear the red pullover, they are all older than me. I pulled into the bus station the other day and when David greeted me he said he first saw the coach, then the red pullover and the beard and thought it was JK driving! JK is however 17 years older than me!

Looking around in London I noticed on the station that the uniforms worn by the coach drivers vary an awful lot. Because the current uniform will eventually be replaced by a new version, what the passengers see is a mismatch. There are blue shirts, Bengal striped shirts, white shirts, red pullovers, blue pullovers, blue fleece jackets, high visibility coats, high visibility waistcoats - some advertising the nationwide company, some the operating company and some a trade union. Even the name badges differ, some - like mine have the old balls logo, others have the new comb logo. This must be confusing for the passengers, drivers wearing different uniforms with different colours and top layers. It does look a bit of a rag tag army at the moment!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn .

This 242 page book is about a girl who goes missing in a shopping centre in 1984, and the people who try to discover what happened to her twenty years later. What Was Lost won the First Novel Award at the 2007 Costa Book Awards, and was short-listed for the overall Costa Book of the Year Award. I do not know how it won this award and I am not surprised that What Was Lost was rejected by 20 agents and publishers before being accepted for publication by Tindal Street Press, a small Birmingham publisher. I vote this novel a MISS.

This story is moody and dark, with very little to praise. I found this book weak, dreary, poor and a lightweight. There is no bite to this story. The ending was a silly disappointment, just like this whole book. It is not a thrilling read and I shall not be buying another of Catherine's books if ever she writes and manages to publish another one.

So below I have typed the best bits of this novel, so that you do not have to waste up to £8.99 and the time to read the whole book.

From page 19...

Thursday 26th April
Tall white male seen today hiding in tropical shrubbery area in central atrium. Appeared to be talking to a leaf. No criminal motive apparent so Mickey and I moved away quickly.

From page 161...

Mystery Shopper

Restaurant code 177. A147 intersection Halesowen branch

Full report based on attached check sheets. I visited the restaurant at approximately 1.30 pm. midweek. On entering the restaurant a smiling member of staff greeted and seated me within 17 seconds. The member of staff gave me a menu and assured me that she would return in 'a couple of minutes' to take my drinks order. 76 seconds later the same waitress returned and took my order for a double Scotch. At this stage she also checked if I was ready to order my food, or if I needed a few more minutes. I chose to order directly. The waitress told me about the day's specials in an informed and enthusiastic manner. I opted for a menu item and the waitress ensured I was fully appraised of all possible side dishes to accompany the main dish. She further ensured that her tits were in my face throughout this exchange. The waitress returned with the meal 7 minutes and 35 seconds later. She placed the meal correctly, offered me a wide range of condiments, smiled and instructed me to enjoy my meal. 2 minutes and 50 seconds later she returned to ask if everything was all right with the meal. I informed her that the meal was satisfactory but my cock was really aching and stiff, and requested that she take a look at it. A member of door security was at the table within 27 seconds and I was escorted off the premises in a further 15 seconds. No member of staff expressed hope that they would see me again. Customer service score: 95%.

...And that, in my opinion is the best that this poor novel has to offer the reader.

Next book please!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hey driver,"There's probably no God".

A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming "There's probably no God". Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with "shock" and "horror" at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest.

...What a plonker Ron Heather is then. He is simply a religious bigot. It was wrong for him to walk off the job over an advert plastered down the side of a bus. First Bus would have been well within their rights to sack him for breach of contract. I am happy to drive any bus or coach with whatever advertisements are plastered over the body. I do not get the choice of advertisements carried, the type of passenger carried or a right of veto over the identity thieving customer service questionnaires. Bus and coach drivers are just paid for by the hour and we have no options over anything, even if we feel it is morally wrong. So, grow up Ron and take Satan's wage for driving the devil's bus to Southampton, through the gates of hell along the Solent.

Friday, January 16, 2009

When safety professionals really shine.

You hear and read so much hogwash about Health and Safety. The training for Health and Safety is itself big business and many firms provide consultancies to industry to train their staff. One such firm is called Safety Reliability Methods and is based in America. It was founded by Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III who also works as a commercial airline pilot. His skills are top rate, a captain for a major U.S. airline with over 40 years of flying experience. A former U.S. Air Force (USAF) fighter pilot, he has served as an instructor and Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) safety chairman, accident investigator and national technical committee member. He has participated in several USAF and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident investigations. His ALPA safety work led to the development of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular. Working with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists, he coauthored a paper on error inducing contexts in aviation. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Crew Resource Management (CRM) course used at his airline and has taught the course to hundreds of his colleagues. Sully is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy (B.S.), Purdue University (M.S.) and the University of Northern Colorado (M.A.). He was a speaker on two panels at the High Reliability Organizations (HRO) 2007 International Conference in Deauville, France May 29-31, 2007. He has just been named a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Yesterday he was flying the US Airways Flight 1549 from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina - when following a double bird strike he landed the Airbus 320, with 150 passengers and five crew on board, safely onto the Hudson River. This was a textbook landing and everybody got off the plane safely and alive. He walked the cabin twice to make sure that everybody had got off.

When it comes to worse case scenarios you could not wish for a better qualified and focused pilot. He was sat at the sharp end and his arse was also on the line. Because of his other work at Safety Reliability Methods he was able to land safely, evacuate the plane, save not only his own arse but also the other 150 passengers and 4 crew. Well done Chesley, you are a credit to the aviation industry and are well worth your salary.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Petition to ban elephant racing .

Lorries are speed restricted to 56 MPH. Lorries in Europe are often restricted in overtaking to stop so called 'elephant racing' - Britain should adopt the same practice (as per the test on the A14)to speed our highways for non restricted cars, vans and LGVs.

We all know the problem on our motorways, one lorry pulls into lane 2 to overtake another lorry. Both lorries are restricted to 56mph and they sit side by side for mile after mile whilst a queue of faster vehicles quickly builds up behind. All the following traffic is then reduced to 56 mph maximum. Driving a coach I am not allowed by law to use the outside lane where there are 3 or more lanes on a motorway. There is no recovery time allowed within the published timetables of the nationwide company I work under-contract for. Once time is lost, it is lost for good. Whilst this elephant racing is taking place, private cars can overtake in the outside lane which means my passengers are treated like second class citizens, of no greater value than a pallet load of baked beans. This second class status then makes coach travel less attractive and ultimately my job less secure.

Under normal driving on a motorway, when a coach overtakes a lorry, the lorry driver flashes his headlights to let the coach driver know it is safe for him to return to the driving lane. However, when you have been stuck mile after mile behind two lorries elephant racing, when eventually the shade faster lorry moves back to the driving lane, that driver NEVER flashes you to signal it is safe to pull in. It is always the inconsiderate, elephant racing, lane hogging lorry drivers who do not acknowledge safe practice by headlight flashing. These cowboys are easy to spot and their inconsiderate and selfish driving should be stopped. This is why I am the 25th signatory on this petition.

When I see this elephant racing ahead on the motorway, I stay in the driving lane for 2 reasons. The main reason is that I know what is going to happen and I do not want to increase my risk by driving in lane 2. Driving in lane 1 means that you always have the hard shoulder as an emergency out option. The second reason is that I do not want other people to think that I am a lane hogging elephant racer like the cowboy in front. I would not get to my destination any quicker by driving in lane 2 whilst the elephants are racing, so I might as well sit back in lane 1 and watch the overtime clock up!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Truth is stranger than fiction .

Over the past year I have enjoyed many books of the genre "Thriller". These novels are a joy to read and the adventures of the characters are great. A lot of planning goes into these stories and what makes them so good is the feasibility of what is going on. You believe that these tales could, with a lot of expert planning, happen in real life. But these are just characters in a book, the imagination and research of the author.

Marcus Schrenker, however, takes things to a new level. He has not written a book but has numerous financial problems and his wife has filed for divorce. So he does a disappearing act and tries to fake his own death. He claimed his aircraft had problems, jumped out with a parachute leaving the plane to crash. He hoped people would assume he had been killed in the crash and he could start his life again in dead man's footsteps. His rather wet footsteps approached Police claiming he had been involved in a canoe accident. He then rides away on a motorcycle that he had stored away previously for his escape to his new future. Click the link above to read the full story.

Had his attention to detail and research been as good as a top selling crime/thriller author, then his plan would have worked! What a thrilling newspaper story this was to read. Far more spectacular than the case of John Darwin and his canoe from Seaton Carew, Hartlepool.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka .

On the back cover of this book is the blurb...

A field of strawberries in Kent and sitting in it two caravans - one for men and one for women. The residents are from all over: miner's son Andriy is from the old Ukraine, while sexy young Irina is from the new: they eye each other warily. There are Poles, Tomasz and Yola; two Chinese girls; and Emanuel from Malawi. They're all here to pick strawberries in England's green and pleasant land. But these days England's not so pleasant for immigrants. Not with Russian gangster-wannabes like Vulk, who's taken a shine to Irina and thinks kidnapping is a wooing strategy. And so Andriy - who really doesn't fancy Irina, honest - must set off in search of that girl he's not in love with.

...Okay, so what do you get for your money? This book has 310 pages in it. It is a jolly book about migrant workers here in the UK. This novel explores the scams that businesses use on migrant workers throughout the world. Marina is spot on with the cultures of migrant workers and peppers her story with mild humour like on page 22...

He doesn't remember much about Sheffield, but three things stand out in his memory from that visit. First, he recalls, there was a banquet, and a sticky pink desert, of which he ate so much that he was later horribly, messily, pinkily sick in the back of a car.

Second, he remembers that the renowned visionary ruler of the city, who had welcomed them warmly with a long-long speech about solidarity and dignity of labour (the speech has so impressed his father that he repeated it many times over), who had sat next to him at the banquet and kindly pressed more and more of that treacherous pink desert on him, and in the back of whose car he had later been sick - this man was blind. The man's astonishing blindness, the fearsome all-excluding wall bricked up behind the visionary eyes, had fascinated Andriy. He had closed his eyes tight and tried to imagine what it would be like to live behind that wall of blindness; he went around bumping into things, until his father slapped him and told him to behave himself.

...and on page 134...

Yola was in a foul mood. She had discovered that morning, don't ask how, that the Slovak women who shared their hotel room had no pubic hair. How could this be permitted? Presumably they were not born this way - well, presumably they were, but acquired it in the natural course of things, and had taken unnatural steps to remove it. There are many bad things that can be said about communism, but one thing is certain, in communist times women did not abuse their pubic hair in this way - a practice which is unnatural, unsightly, undignified and, without being too specific, potentially dangerous.

...I enjoyed this book and I vote it a HIT. It explores the economic realities of migrant workers here in the UK. Marina clearly has her finger on the pulse. This novel shows the ugly face of capitalism and the characters in this book are the victims, not the heroes. There is romance in this book which is written in the style of a thriller. Marina is a clever writer and her book shows the other side of the coin. Okay, I have criticized the Poles before on this blog but this book explores the human side of their quest for work. It reminds me of the text in The Woods by Harlan Coben where he writes "That was how it often was. It was easy to hate gays or blacks or Jews or Arabs. It was more difficult to hate individuals". And so it is with this book, the economic migrants into our country are so easy to hate because of the effect they have had on our employment, pay and conditions. It is more difficult to hate them when they become separate characters in a book who have done their level best to find some work yet become victims themselves to the same penny-pinching employers that we suffer. These migrant workers are not having a picnic but are exploited the same as other migrant workers the world over. Employers want cheap labour and the middle-men who provide this workforce cash in whilst these workers suffer bad pay and appalling working conditions. This novel is about politics and it is an enjoyable read in the same way as Mark Steel's column in the Independent newspaper.

When I had finished reading this novel it became obvious to me why Marina had dedicated this book to the Morecambe Bay cockle-pickers .

I agree with the review of this book published in the Times and because of the quality of Marina's writing I will be happy to invest in a copy of her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian .

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A view from the Ambulance .

The war in Gaza continues and reporting restrictions are in place. There are some blogs which let out the news about what is happening on the streets of Gaza. The In Gaza blog is one of the better ones and is written by a person involved with the Ambulance Service. I have read this blog for over a week now, it is very moving and because of the horrors of the situation in Gaza is rather graphic.

As a blog reader I have become drained reading this blog as the daily toll of death and serious injury increases. This stress has been reflected by the blogger him/herself...

The numbers slaughtered and injured are so high now –521 and 2,700 as of this morning, Gaza time — that sitting next to a dead or dying person is becoming normal. The stain of blood on the ambulance stretcher pools next to my coat, the medic warning me my coat may be dirtied. What does it matter? The stain doesn’t revolt me as it would have, did, one week ago. Death fills the air, the streets in Gaza, and I cannot stress that this is no exaggeration.

...This is a blog that records history in the making but sadly as the death toll of civilians and emergency service personnel increases I fear that this blogger may soon be killed by the Israel Defense Forces as life in Gaza is very dangerous and can be rather short.

I feel very angry that the United Nations have discussed the situation in Gaza and have put forward motions for peace. These motions have been opposed only by America and Israel, partners in crime. Reports are coming out over the use of Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) by the Israel Defense Forces as they did in Lebanon. These bombs are horrible and cannot be justified, especially against civilians. These DIME bombs produce horrific injuries and an unknown cancerous legacy as these pictures show.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Second Stage of Operation Cast Lead Begins.

It just gets worse, with the Israel Defense Forces gloating on their website...

Saturday evening (Jan.3), IDF forces began to implement the second stage of Operation Cast Lead. Ground forces have begun to maneuver within the Gaza Strip.

The objective of this stage of the operation is to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the precise area of operation, while taking control of some of rocket launching area used by the Hamas in order to greatly reduce the quantity of rockets fired at Israel and Israeli civilians.

A large number of IDF forces are taking part in this stage of the operation including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence, along with the support of the Israel Air Force, Israel Navy, Israel Security Agency and other security agencies.

Israel has launched a ground invasion of Gaza, sending a column of troops and tanks into the Palestinian territory to destroy Hamas rocket launchers. The incursion, which began under cover of darkness near Beit Lahiya near Gaza’s northern border, represents a significant escalation of the week-long conflict between Israel and Hamas. According to an unconfirmed count 442 Palestinians and 4 Israelis have been killed since operation Cast Lead began last week.

At the Stop the War Coalition rally at Trafalgar Square in London today , Mr Benn called for a Europe-wide boycott of Israeli goods. The Metropolitan Police put the total number of demonstrators in London at between 10,000 and 12,000, but organisers claimed the figure was as high as 75,000.

So the ground war by Israel into Gaza has begun and our protests have achieved nothing. Our politicians are standing back as Israel invades Gaza and the world watches in horror. The man-in-the-street can do nothing to stop the Palestinians being slaughtered. All I can do is boycott Israeli goods and when I bought my groceries yesterday I did not buy any Grapefruits . Workmates know how much I enjoy taking a grapefruit to work as part of my lunch but the grapefruits for sale were labelled Israel. Israel produces 245,000 tonnes of grapefruit a year, so my consumption is a drop in the ocean. My conscience would not let me buy these grapefruits but that is all I can do in protest.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hamas 4, Israel 399.

The deadliest conflict in the Gaza Strip in four decades could get even bloodier after days of air strikes that have killed at least 399 Palestinians, about a quarter of whom, U.N. figures showed, were civilians, and wounded more than 1,700. Three Israeli civilians and a soldier have been killed by rockets from the Gaza Strip since Israel began an air offensive on Saturday.

Israel has responded very heavily against the residents of Gaza, this is not a tat for tat defence. It is a ratio of a hundred to one and is grossly inappropriate. I condemn Israel for it's military response against the residents of Gaza. Robert Fisk writes that when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, when their guerrillas were crossing from the Republic to attack police stations and Protestants, did Britain unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic? Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn't want to lower ourselves to the IRA's level.

Also that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza. That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza.

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